DARPA, in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, completed a free flight test of its Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) last week. The missile, built by Raytheon Technologies, was released from an aircraft seconds before its Northrop Grumman scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) engine kicked on. The engine compressed incoming air mixed with its hydrocarbon fuel and began igniting that fast-moving airflow mixture, propelling the cruiser at a speed greater than Mach 5/3,836 mph/6174 km/h (five times the speed of sound).
The HAWC vehicle operates best in oxygen-rich atmosphere, where speed and maneuverability make it difficult to detect in a timely way. It could strike targets much more quickly than subsonic missiles and has significant kinetic energy even without high explosives.
«The HAWC free flight test was a successful demonstration of the capabilities that will make hypersonic cruise missiles a highly effective tool for our warfighters», said Andrew «Tippy» Knoedler, HAWC program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. «This brings us one step closer to transitioning HAWC to a program of record that offers next generation capability to the U.S military».
Goals of the mission were: vehicle integration and release sequence, safe separation from the launch aircraft, booster ignition and boost, booster separation and engine ignition, and cruise. All primary test objectives were met.
The achievement builds on pioneering scramjet projects, including work on the X-30 National Aero-Space Plane as well as unmanned flights of NASA’s X-43 vehicles and the U.S. Air Force’s X-51 Waverider.
«HAWC’s successful free flight test is the culmination of years of successful government and industry partnership, where a single, purpose-driven team accomplished an extremely challenging goal through intense collaboration», Knoedler added. «This historic flight would not have been possible without the dedication of industry, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy flight test personnel who persevered through the pandemic to make the magic happen».
The HAWC flight test data will help validate affordable system designs and manufacturing approaches that will field air-breathing hypersonic missiles to our warfighters in the near future.
The U.S. Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) received Milestone C (MS-C) approval August 23, allowing the program to move into its first phase of production.
The U.S. Navy plans to award the first two low-rate initial production lots over the next several months.
«The combined government/industry team has worked tirelessly over the last few years to reach this milestone», said Captain Alex Dutko, Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242) program manager. «We look forward to getting this new weapon with its increased capability and lethality out to the fleet as soon as possible».
The MS-C decision comes just over two years after the Navy awarded the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract to its prime contractor, Northrop Grumman. The team conducted the first live-fire event in July to verify system integration and rocket motor performance, as well as initiate modeling and simulation validation.
Captive and live fire flight testing is planned to continue through 2022 and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is planned for 2023.
The U.S. Navy is integrating AARGM-ER on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and it will be compatible for integration on the F-35 Lightning II. By leveraging the U.S. Navy’s AARGM program, the AARGM-ER with a new rocket motor and warhead will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems.
The U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS) successfully hit its target in support of Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, during Large Scale Exercise 21 (LSE 21) August 15, 2021. The exercise showcased the U.S. maritime forces’ ability to deliver lethal, integrated all-domain naval power.
LSE 21 was a live, virtual and constructive scenario-driven, globally-integrated exercise with activities spanning 17 time zones. LSE 21 applied and assessed developmental warfighting concepts that will define how the future U.S. Navy and Marine Corps compete, respond to crises, fight and win in conflict.
The Marine Corps’ NMESIS will provide the Marine Littoral Regiment with ground based anti-ship capability to facilitate sea denial and control while persisting within the enemy’s weapons engagement-zone, and LSE 21 provided a venue for the program team to validate some of those concepts.
«This scenario is representative of the real-world challenges and missions the Navy and Marine Corps will be facing together in the future», said Brigadier General A.J. Pasagian, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC). «This exercise also provided an opportunity for us to work alongside our service partners to refine Force Design 2030 modernization concepts».
SINKEX, the exercise scenario involving NMESIS, provided a testing environment for new and developing technologies to connect, locate, identify, target and destroy adversary threats in all domains, culminating in the live-fire demonstration of the naval strike missile against a sea-based target. During the exercise, forward-deployed forces on expeditionary advanced bases detected and, after joint command and control collaboration with other U.S. forces, responded to a ship-based adversary. Simultaneous impacts from multiple, dispersed weapons systems and platforms across different U.S. services – including NMESIS – engaged the threat.
NMESIS integrates established, proven sub-systems, such as the Joint Lightweight Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Chassis, the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and the Fire Control System used by the Navy for NSM.
«From an acquisition perspective, NMESIS started a little over two years ago», said Joe McPherson, long range fires program manager at MCSC. «We’ve been able to rapidly move on developing and fielding this system because we’re leveraging existing NSM and JLTV subsystems».
Because NMESIS is not yet a fielded capability, engineers from MCSC managed the fire control piece of the system during the exercise. Marines, however, were able to practice maneuvering the system and validating the system’s interoperability with their Naval and Air Force partners.
«This week was very successful», said McPherson. «In addition to the two live fire shots that hit the target, we also successfully deployed the system aboard the Marine Corps’ primary transport systems, the C130 Hercules and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC)».
Though not associated with its program development, the NMESIS transportability and mobility demonstration serves an important role in developing tactics, techniques and procedures related to this critical capability, said McPherson.
MCSC is developing and fielding new anti-surface warfare weapons capabilities, including NMESIS, on pace to support Force Design 2030 objectives. These new capabilities contribute to the Fleet’s ability to achieve sea control, sea denial and defense against adversary amphibious force missions.
«This exercise gave us an opportunity to not only measure, but also validate the concepts for the Marine Corps’ anti-ship capability, which is one of the most important avenues of the Commandant’s Force Design 2030», said Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Collins, combat integration office for artillery and fires at Marine Corps Combat Development Directorate, Combat Development and Integration. «I think the successful launches of the missile will help us clarify the path forward as we move to fulfill the Commandant’s 2030 vision, and giving the Marine Corps a transformative anti-ship capability».
Exercises such as LSE 21 increase maritime interoperability and the ability to project American power at home and around the world.
The U.S. Navy has successfully completed the first live fire of the Northrop Grumman Corporation AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER) from a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. The test was conducted on July 19 at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of southern California. The missile successfully demonstrated the long range capability of the new missile design.
«The AARGM-ER was successfully launched from the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft and met the key test objectives of a first missile live fire event. The government and industry team had great focus and was able to conduct this test event three months earlier than originally envisioned», said Captain A.C. «Count» Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242).
AARGM-ER leverages AARGM with significant improvements in some technology areas.
«Throughout the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase, Northrop Grumman has demonstrated the ability to deliver this affordable, time-critical capability that will protect and enhance the capability of our U.S. Navy aircrew», said Gordon Turner, vice president, advanced weapons, Northrop Grumman. «Congratulations to the collective Government-Industry team for another successful milestone bringing AARGM-ER one step closer to operational fielding».
AARGM-ER is being integrated on the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft as well as the Air Force F-35A Lightning II, Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, and Navy and Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft.
BAE Systems has received a $117 million contract from Lockheed Martin to produce next-generation missile seekers for the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). The seeker technology enables LRASM to detect and engage specific maritime targets in contested environments with less dependence on traditional navigation systems. The next-generation seeker design reduces overall missile costs.
«We’re committed to providing affordable systems that deliver unmatched capabilities to the U.S. and its allies», said Bruce Konigsberg, Radio Frequency Sensors product area director at BAE Systems. «We’ve designed efficient seeker systems that are easier to build and test without compromising on performance».
Following design improvements conducted under a Diminishing Sources/Affordability contract, BAE Systems is producing next-generation seekers for Lots 4 and 5 that are more capable and easier to produce, with less-complicated manufacturing processes. The next-generation seekers have replaced obsolescent and limited-availability parts, dramatically reducing the system cost.
The LRASM contract will support missiles for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. allies through Foreign Military Sales, as well as research, development, test, and evaluation services.
MBDA has been awarded a number of contracts to significantly upgrade the air and missile defence capabilities of the Royal Navy’s six Type 45 destroyers.
The work will see CAMM (Common Anti-air Modular Missile) paired with an upgraded Sea Viper Command and Control (C2) system for the first time. CAMM offers both world-leading close-in and local-area air defence, and will complement Aster 30, strengthening the anti-air defence capability of the Royal Navy.
Fitting CAMM onto the Type 45s will give the destroyers a 50% increase in the number of its air defence missiles. Installation will be via 24 additional launcher cells, and the Sea Viper C2 will get a technology upgrade, giving it a major increase in processing power.
The existing 48 Sylver cells on the Type 45 will now be solely for the longer-range Aster 30 missile, which is also subject to a recently announced mid-life refresh. This will see the missile remain in service throughout the life of the Type 45s.
CAMM has already been delivered to both the British Army and the Royal Navy, where it is the interceptor in both Ground-Based Air Defence (GBAD) and Naval-Based Air Defence (NBAD) systems, enabling these services to equip missiles from a shared stockpile.
In service on upgraded Royal Navy Type 23 frigates, CAMM will also be fitted to Type 26 and Type 31 in the future. The CAMM family has proven a rapid success with international customers, with Canada and Brazil among the new users ordering the missile this year.
MBDA has successfully completed a firing of the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile Extended Range CAMM-ER air defence missile against a manoeuvring target, confirming the excellent capability of the CAMM family system.
The trial took place at an Italian firing range. CAMM-ER is the extended range member of the new-generation CAMM air defence family of systems.
All members of the CAMM family share the same cutting-edge active radar seeker and soft-launch system, with CAMM-ER featuring a larger rocket motor designed by AVIO to provide extended range out beyond 40 km/24.85 miles.
CAMM-ER was designed to replace the Aspide munition in the Medium Advanced Air Defence System (MAADS) of the Italian Air Force and the GRIFO air defence system of the Italian Army. CAMM-ER is the missile that will be used in the Albatros NG system, which provides an optimized Naval Based Air Defence (NBAD) solution to enhance the defence capabilities of naval fleets.
UVision Air Ltd. – a global leader in aerial loitering munitions systems of all sizes for a variety of missions, and the design and production company of the Hero-120 system, has been awarded through its Business Development partner, Mistral Inc. to supply the Hero-120 for the U.S. Marine Corps Organic Precision Fire Mounted (OPF-M) System. The system will be integrated with Light Armored Vehicle-Medium (LAV-M), Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), and Long-Range Unmanned Surface Vessel (LRUSV).
UVision’s Hero-120 OPF-M has been selected after the completion of several successful demonstrations, tests and evaluation processes, proving the remarkable performance capabilities of the system. The Hero-120 OPF-M will provide the Marines Corps with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), highly accurate and precision indirect fire strike capabilities. In addition, UVision will supply its MultiCanister Launcher tailored to the specific requirements of the USMC and integrate onto the LAV, JLTV and the LRUSV.
The Hero-120 is a mid-range, anti-armor weapon system which meets the complex requirements of the modern battlefield. Hero-120 is a high precision smart loitering munition system with a unique aerodynamic structure that carries out pinpoint strikes against antiarmor, anti-material and anti-personnel targets including tanks, vehicles, concrete fortifications, and other soft targets in populated urban areas. The Hero-120’s high precision capability ensures minimal collateral damage. Its wide range of multi-purpose warheads enable the operational user to effectively engage all targets.
«We are proud to be selected by the Marines to provide advanced solutions for the U.S. frontline forces», says Major General (Retired) Avi Mizrachi, CEO of UVision. «The contract is a testament of our customers’ strong belief in our systems and their impressive technical performance. Our subsidiary, UVision USA, is in a process of establishing our U.S. based production facility to support the USMC OPF-M program».
Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, and Saab, proved the versatility and performance of the Guided Multipurpose Munition (GMM), which was fired from multiple launchers during a U.S. Army demonstration.
The GMM System Capability Demonstration, a joint activity between Saab and Raytheon Missiles & Defense, was funded by the U.S. Army under a U.S. Government Rapid Innovation Funding (RIF) effort aimed at supporting the development of promising technologies that address military capability to meet operational needs. This was a three-year contract that culminated in a live-fire demonstration in November 2020.
«The GMM’s effectiveness and flexibility to fire from multiple launchers provides soldiers an advantage in accuracy and lethality in multi-domain operations», said Tom Laliberty, vice president of Land Warfare & Air Defense, a Raytheon Missiles & Defense business. «We’re closer to delivering this much-needed weapon to ground forces around the globe».
From an enclosure, the GMM, formerly known as the Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition, was fired from both an AT4-derived disposable launcher and the Saab-built Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifle, defeating different targets at distances from 1,550 to 2,500 meters/5,085 to 8,202 feet. The live-fire exercise demonstrated the munition’s fully integrated warhead and fuze against multiple targets, as well as its extended range precision and effectiveness from multiple launchers. The targets were triple brick wall, double-reinforced concrete wall, and up-armored vehicle.
«The GMM marks the next step in the evolution of our shoulder-launched systems. It is the most advanced munition yet and will offer greater precision, outstanding performance with pin-point accuracy, and multi-target capability», says Görgen Johansson, head of Saab’s Dynamics business area.
The GMM is the first precision-guided munition for Saab’s Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifle, which is fielded in the U.S. and around the world. With the disposable launcher, which is a portable, single-use system, the GMM provides a valuable capability to squad and platoon level troops.
During a U.S. Army demonstration, Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Saab proved the versatility and performance of the Guided Multipurpose Munition, which was fired from multiple launchers
The Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman team successfully conducted a significant live fire hypersonic strike system test in support of the U.S. Navy’s Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) and U.S. Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) programs.
In this live fire ground test of the first stage solid rocket motor, the motor fired for the full trial duration and met performance parameters and objectives within anticipated ranges.
«We’re pleased to celebrate this important event with the U.S. Navy, Army and Northrup Grumman. This outcome today is due to our shared effort and determination to see this test on the Conventional Prompt Strike program succeed», said Steve Layne, Program Director of Conventional Strike Programs at Lockheed Martin. «This live fire event is a major milestone on the path to providing hypersonic strike capability to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army warfighters».
Northrop Grumman developed the motor and Lockheed Martin serves as the prime weapon systems integrator to provide boost capability to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army hypersonic strike missile.
«Northrop Grumman is proud to leverage our expertise in flight-proven solid rocket propulsion to support the nation’s efforts to develop an advanced end-to-end missile system capable of deterring emerging and future threats», said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman.
CPS is a hypersonic boost glide missile and weapon system that enables long range flight with high survivability against enemy defenses. CPS and LRHW share a common all up round that can be launched from surface ships, submarines, and land-based mobile launchers. The U.S. Department of Defense has made developing hypersonic strike systems a top mission priority and Lockheed Martin’s investment in hypersonic innovation dates back more than 30 years.